Comelec chief faces contempt rap

by Purple S. Romero,

Posted at Sep 11 2009 02:23 AM | Updated as of Sep 11 2009 10:23 AM

Commission on Elections (Comelec) chair Jose Melo faces contempt raps after he disclosed Wednesday that the Supreme Court (SC) gave automated elections a go.

SC spokesman Jose Midas said that University of the Philippines lawyer Harry Roque filed a motion seeking to have Melo, also a former SC jurist, held in contempt of court for leaking the SC decision on the poll automation case.

The High Tribunal voted 11-3-1 to junk the petition filed by Roque and the Concerned Citizens Movement which sought to have the P7.3-billion automation contract between Comelec and Smartmatic-Total Information Management (TIM) Consortium nullified.

Melo told the media that they won the case a day before the High Court released the decision. He said, however that there is no leakage as he claimed that he received the information from another Comelec official, Professor Renato Garcia. Garcia allegedly heard of the news from radio reports.

Last February, the SC was caught in a similar controversy. Then Justice Ruben Reyes’s decision on the disqualification case against Negros Oriental Rep. Jocelyn Limkaichong fell on the hands of one of the petitioners, Louis Biraogo.

The draft of the decision showed that 14 justices voted to have Limkaichong removed from the post because she is not a natural-born Filipino citizen. Biraogo then accused Chief Justice Reynato Puno of sitting on the case because he is the only one who did not sign the draft.

The high court later traced the leakage to Reyes himself, who by then has retired already. He was fined P500,000.